Dog lovers be­ware

South Waikato News - - OPINION - By STEVE BUL­LOCK

For some rea­son, when I post ac­co­lades to the po­lice and com­mu­nity in this col­umn some­thing bad hap­pens. It started with me com­ment­ing on how much safer our roads had been be­fore the tragedies of De­cem­ber and just last month I talked about how home bur­glar­ies had dropped be­cause of some great po­lice and com­mu­nity work.

You guessed it – since then we have seen an in­crease in this crime type, with a cou­ple of crooks back in town af­ter a stay in the big house. We know who they are and rest as­sured that if they wish to con­tinue com­mit­ting crime in our towns then they will be go­ing back for an­other stay.

On this note, you may no­tice a po­lice ‘‘booze bus’’ out and about in Toko­roa streets. If you see it parked up drop in for a cup of tea and a chat about your neigh­bour­hood and how we can make it safer. It is all about crime preven­tion and no, we won’t breath-test you – not this time.

Last week I hosted Jaio Belo dos Reis, a po­lice com­man­der from Ti­mor Leste who was vis­it­ing for a com­mu­nity polic­ing project be­tween the New Zealand po­lice and the Poli­cia Na­tionale Ti­mor Leste. I am part of this pro­gramme and as a men­tor for the com­man­der I visit his coun­try three times a year. While there is much we can teach them, there is also much for us to learn.

I took Com­man­der Belo to Toko­roa, Pu­taruru and Man­gakino, where he spoke with our staff and com­mu­ni­ties in­clud­ing a brief chat with our mayor. Of note is the good old-fash­ioned coun­try hos­pi­tal­ity he re­ceived at the Swanston Street Sushi shop. Well done to the young lady who served him, you did Tok proud.

Prob­a­bly the most pleas­ing as­pect of his visit was how amazed he was at see­ing po­lice and com­mu­ni­ties in­ter­act in New Zealand, some­thing com­pletely for­eign to him, as po­lice in Ti­mor do not en­joy a trusted re­la­tion­ship.

In Ti­mor they have a large num­ber of small com­mu­ni­ties each di­rected by a Chefe de Suco, a lo­cally elected mayor-type who looks af­ter about 1500 to 3000 peo­ple in a prob­lem-solv­ing role.

If a cou­ple have a domestic dis­pute he/she de­cides who is at fault and if the man is in the wrong he may be or­dered to pay the wife’s fam­ily a pig. If the wife is in the wrong then the wife’s fam­ily pay the man a pig.

While this sys­tem pro­vides them with a great ser­vice at a low level it lets them down when fam­ily vi­o­lence or se­ri­ous crim­i­nal be­hav­iour is ev­i­dent.

There is lit­tle or no con­nec­tion to po­lice, and vic­tims feel un­able to speak up, a stark re­minder for us be­cause it was not so long ago that we had sig­nif­i­cant un­der-re­port­ing of fam­ily vi­o­lence and phys­i­cal and sex­ual abuse.

See­ing po­lice com­mu­nity re­la­tion­ships in Ti­mor re­minds me of how im­por­tant it is to have our com­mu­ni­ties trust in us and our ac­tions. While there will al­ways be times when the re­la­tion­ship is tested it will be trust and con­fi­dence that will get us through.

Trust and con­fi­dence can only be built by get­ting to know each other and to do this we need to talk in good times and to talk in bad times. Drop in to the booze bus for a chat or catch up with a po­lice per­son you know. We don’t bite.

On a lighter, or darker side if you are a dog lover, the com­man­der and his lan­guage as­sis­tant ob­served a very large dog on their trav­els and com­mented that it would feed many, many peo­ple in their coun­try.

Be safe and drive safe, al­ways.

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